How do you decide which countries you want to visit? Do you decide you want to see new places or revisit old haunts? I am not planning on visiting any of these places any time soon; I just love researching and seeing where I want to go on my next trip. Yes, I am one of those people; I love to plan and research countries in advance but that doesn’t mean I will stick to those places. That is where the spontaneity comes into play. All the planning does is help me figure out which countries I would love to see and how much it may cost me. I know things will change time and again when I am overseas. Nothing is set in stone when you travel….
Planning and spontaneity was all part of the backpacking trip that was taken years ago. Originally, I had planned to go to Romania and ended up not going. Instead I ended up making my way to Switzerland and that wasn’t even in my plans when I was working out places I wanted to see.
Wouldn’t you know it; many of the destinations listed are places I never dreamed of visiting. Who knows why I never thought about visiting them before now? Why didn’t I think about wanting to see them before? I think a lot of it had to do with using Busabout at the time and the busses didn’t go into these countries. Or if they did, it was more of a tour and not the hop-on hop-off aspect of it all that I was looking for at the time. I ended up sticking to the countries on the Busabout route instead of veering away from it. Now is the time to think of other places not on any particular route and explore those cities.
Most of the places will be new to me except for Paris, London and Edinburgh. Who knows why I want to revisit them? Maybe because Paris is one of my favorite cities so I will revisit it again and again. As for London and Edinburgh, they are close enough to Paris; well, London is by train and then from London to Edinburgh I can take the bus. Now you can see why I had to add those two to my destinations list for this trip.
Listed are some of the places that intrigue me about each destination:
- Bucharest, Romania – I see a theme brewing here for this city; art, cemeteries, churches and parks. Here are a few of the places I want to visit when I make it to this city; Bellu Cemetery, Biserica Sf. Nicolae (church), Carol Park (Liberty Park), Cismigiu Gardens, Cotroceni Palace, Herastrau Park, The Art Collections Museum and The National Museum of Art of Romania.
- Brasov, Romania – Bran Castle is but a 35 minute drive from Brasov. This is one of the reasons I chose Brasov along with being able to explore other parts of Romania and not focus solely on Bucharest.
- Sinaia, Romania – A great day trip from Brasov; only 31 miles away so can spend the day walking around Sinaia and visiting Peles Castle.
- Istanbul, Turkey – There are many places I want to see when I visit Istanbul; from Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Dolmabahce Palace, Gulhane Park, Hagia Sophia Museum (church), Suleymaniye Mosque to buying spices to take home with me.
- Sofia, Bulgaria – All I want to do when I get to Sofia is explore the city and find my own hidden treasures along with visiting these places; Saint Nikolas Russian Church, The Garden of Vrana Palace and The Rotunda of St. George.
- Plovdiv, Bulgaria – I would be looking forward to walking through the old town, discovering hidden gems along with places such as Ancient Stadium of Philipopolis, Bachkovo Monastery, Nebet Tepe and Roman Theatre.
- Thessaloniki, Greece – When I think of Greece, I decided I would want to visit another part of the country, having visited Athens and five of the islands on my last trip there. I have always loved all things Greek, from the gyros to the white washed houses. I know Thessaloniki will be no different except I will be seeing another side of Greece and I am sure it will be just as amazing.
- Belgrade, Serbia – I am looking forward to exploring these parts of Belgrade; Crkva Svetogmarka, Novo Groblje (cemetery), Saint Petka’s Chapel and Topcider Park.
- Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina – I will admit I am mainly fascinated with the old bridge but know there is more to see in Mostar than this.
- Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina – I love history and Sarajevo abounds with it. I want to understand its history and how this city came back from the Yugoslav Wars of 1992-1995.
- Dubrovnik, Croatia – I am in awe of the wall that surrounds the city and that is one thing that attracts me to it. Walking around the wall so that I can get the view of the city from where I am walking is something I can’t wait to do.
- Split, Croatia – Diocletian’s Palace is one of the places where I plan to spend some of my time; not all of my time, mind you since I do want to explore all that this city has to offer.
- Zagreb, Croatia – I will be the first to admit that I want to visit the Museum of Broken Relationships. I had read about this museum a while ago and always thought it would be interesting to see what people would leave behind from their relationships that no longer work.
Ljubljana, Slovenia – When I think of this city, my mind goes straight to the triple bridge which in turn leads me to the canals and of course walking through Tivoli Park.
- Budapest, Hungary – It will be interesting to see the different sides to this city since its split down the middle by the Danube River. It will be cool to explore two sides to one city; Buda and Pest and see the differences in one city but two towns within it.
- Berlin, Germany – The Berlin Wall is one of the first things I think of when I think of visiting Berlin. I know seeing the Memorial of the Berlin Wall isn’t the only thing to see in this city. Seeing it will give me an understanding of how people lived in this city when the wall divided Berlin.
- Munich, Germany – No, I won’t be heading to Munich during Oktoberfest. I would rather enjoy the city when it isn’t swarming with tourists during that time of year. Besides exploring all that Munich has to offer; it will be a great base for traveling to Rothenburg and Harburg for the day.
- Nuremberg, Germany – One of the main reasons why I want to visit this city is because of its connection to World War II. With this connection, I will get more of an insight into the war and what my dad and uncles might have gone through since they served in it.
- Paris, France – I love all things that have to do with Paris; chocolate croissants, Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur to name a few. Even though I have visited three times, I feel I haven’t covered all that I want to see. It looks like I need to make another trip to this city so that I can explore more of what I missed the other times I visited it.
- London, England – The Tower Bridge is my favorite bridge in the entire world. There is something about it that is magical and brings me back to London whenever I think of my time there.
- Edinburgh, Scotland – Two words; Royal Mile. I can’t wait to go back to Edinburgh and walk along it as I browse through the shops and stop in at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern for lunch.
I know it took a lot of going back and forth on what I wanted to get out of this next trip. Did I want to see the same countries again or venture out and see more of the world? Seeing more of the world won out….. Something else that factored into my decision was that I wanted to step further out of my comfort zone. I wanted to push the envelope and not take the safe route of traveling with Busabout. Not that I didn’t love traveling with them on my first European trip. They were great because you could see all the countries within their circuit and hop-on hop-off in the cities they stopped at in those countries. As for hostels, that was taken care of as well. This time around, I want to travel by train and a few busses; ones that do not travel within any particular circuit but where I decide where I want to go and when. You might say I am ready for new adventures; new hidden treasures and learning more about the history in these cities.
How do you decide which countries you want to see? Do you revisit the same places every year? Do you visit new places in hopes of finding new adventures waiting for you around the corner? You know which destinations I would love to visit and which ones I plan to revisit. I would love to hear which countries you plan to visit or revisit on your next trip.